THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — In south Georgia, local hotels are making ends meet by giving back.
Essential workers in Thomasville now have a temporary place to call home while keeping their families safe from the virus.
Many essential employees can come into contact with hundreds of people a week and, as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in south Georgia, workers like Zack Bruchey say their main concern is their family's safety.
"Me and my wife we talked about it," said Bruchey, a clerk at the Thomasville Post Office, "And we have a child with respiratory issues, and we thought it would be a great idea for the time being for me to just separate myself away from them."
So, at the peak of the pandemic Bruchey checked in to the Hampton Inn in Thomasville.
"Because if it takes 14 days to show some symptoms I just wanted to keep that window closed as much as possible," Bruchey said.
With canceled reservations, the hotel's owner Jeremy Emmett decided to turn his hotel into a safe haven for essential employees seeking to protect their families.
Partnering with the Thomasville Chamber of Commerce, the Essential Employee Lodging Program was born.
But Emmett is quick to point out it's not a quarantine program for people showing symptoms.
"What this is, is for people for people who are out in the public who have an elevated risk but they haven't been knowingly exposed or tested positive," said Emmett.
Essential employees can stay at a discounted rate of $50 anywhere from two weeks to a month. If they can't afford a room, they can stay in one of the donated room blocks.
As people return to work, Emmett hopes the program expands, helping to control the spread of the virus.
"We're hoping this becomes more widespread because this is a good way to not only help the community, but keep our employees working and make it through the crisis," Emmett said.
After occupancy dropped from 80 to 90 percent, this program has helped Emmett recover potential losses from the virus, keeping his 26 employees working.
If you'd like more information about the Essential Employee Lodging Program, click here.
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